Speculation continues to mount that the Boston Red Sox will ask permission to interview Doug Melvin for the club's vacated general manager position, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos said again yesterday that he has not been approached by anyone.
"I haven't heard a word," he said. "I got a fax from [Red Sox general partner] John Harrington today, but it was about revenue sharing. There wasn't a word about [Melvin]. There might be some substance to it, but I haven't heard anything."
The Red Sox are searching for a replacement for Lou Gorman, who was moved upstairs in November. The team approached the Montreal Expos for permission to interview GM Dan Duquette, but the Expos denied the request. Melvin, who is considered one of the brightest young executives in baseball, is believed to be high on the list of candidates, but baseball protocol requires that the Red Sox go through Angelos before approaching him.
That apparently hasn't happened, and Angelos wouldn't say what he would do if it does. It is customary for clubs to grant permission if the job opening represents a promotion. That wasn't the case for Duquette, but it would be the case for Melvin.
"If that occurs, I will decide what our response will be at that time," Angelos said.
No doubt, Melvin would like the opportunity to move up, something he is expected to do in Baltimore eventually. There was a point several weeks ago when Angelos seemed close to promoting general manager Roland Hemond to vice chairman in charge of baseball operations and making Melvin the GM, but he has delayed any decision on Hemond and his possible successor until after the Orioles complete their off-season dealings.
The Red Sox could force his hand by showing interest in Melvin, but Angelos said that he feels no obligation to rush into a decision.
"When I gave Roland a two-year contract extension, everybody was happy about it," he said. "There was no obligation to extend to Roland the job that I offered Larry Lucchino. I'm not saying that Roland will not move into another role sometime in the next two years, but the baseball side of the operation is running very well as it is."
Angelos also is taking some heat because he raised expectations with early statements on the new ownership group's intention to spend whatever was within reason to build a championship club. The jury still is out, but he said yesterday that he was not speaking out of turn when he said the club might acquire as many as three front-line players.
"I think that when all is said and done, people will see that what I said was not an idle boast," Angelos said.
The Orioles have signed one free agent so far -- left-handed pitcher Sid Fernandez -- and apparently remain in pursuit of free-agent first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. The club shied from a five-year deal that would have brought Will Clark to Baltimore, but appears to be in position to sign Palmeiro to a three- or four-year deal at about $5.5 million per year.
"Do we want him, yes," Angelos said. "Will we sign him? As soon as a deal can be made within the parameters that are reasonable for the club."
The competition for Palmeiro's services diminished when several other free-agent first basemen signed ahead of him, but agent Jim Bronner has been in contact with the New York Mets.
The Mets seem more likely to cut their payroll than add to it, but reports of a possible deal to send Bret Saberhagen to the Cleveland Indians could clear space on the books for Palmeiro. Still, it appears the Orioles are in the best position to sign him.
Angelos also remains confident that the Orioles can further upgrade the pitching staff, which was improved significantly with the acquisition of Fernandez. The Orioles are known to have inquired about starting pitchers Pete Harnisch and Andy Benes during the past month, but Angelos would only say that the club is not through with its search for pitching help.